Nathan Stephenson died seventy years ago and he’d like the world – or at least one person – to think he stayed that way.
In 1940s London, Sergeant Nathan Stephenson ignored his rank and the expectation that he’d wait for the war to be over and find a nice girl to settle down with, and took a lover. Not only was Adam Locke unashamed of his homosexuality, he was also proud to be a vampire. Back then, he was certain that his and Nathan’s relationship would last forever, refusing to take no for an answer.
One evening, Adam went too far in his attempts to persuade Nathan to become a vampire and left a mutual acquaintance, Will Bosworth, to deal with the aftermath. What Adam doesn’t know is that Nathan didn’t die – Will brought him back to life, agreeing to keep Nathan’s continued existence a secret.
It’s now the twenty-first century and Will’s back to call in the favour. Nathan’s an honourable man and can’t say no, but the trouble is, wherever Will goes, Adam Locke can’t be far behind...
My poky basement flat doesn’t look any different when I return; a battered copy of Anna Karenina lies on the coffee table, its bookmark tucked roughly one third through the book for the umpteenth time of reading. Though I favour French literature, I sometimes venture into Russia, too. I keep a number of books on the go at once. Everything’s in exactly the same place, just as I left it. Nothing ever changes, and that’s just the trouble.
I let out a heavy groan; yet another of my affectations. No need to breathe and no-one around to hear it, but I have to let my frustration out somehow.
I need something to break the monotony, but only have routine things to do. Flick though a TV guide. Skim through my CD collection. Open up the netbook and connect to the Internet.
A marvellous invention, that. I can communicate anonymously with people all over the world. Join fora, discuss books, films, the burgeoning acceptance of the undead walking among us without anyone knowing who I am. What I am.
Communicating anonymously is both a convenience and a burden. Connecting to the internet does not necessarily make for a connection with another person.
Then again, sometimes it does. My email alert makes its electronic announcement and the pop-up gives away nothing. There’s a name I don’t recognise, but I click on the message anyway.
It’s been a long time since my blood ran cold; being undead, a walking corpse, the blood in my veins is cold already. I drink from other people, yes, but once inside me it never holds any heat. Not that cold temperatures bother me; I’m aware of them. I still have that sensation, that awareness, but it no longer troubles me physically.
Rarely, as now, do I feel a chill racing through my veins alongside that lifeless blood, something on a whole new level of cold.
Covering my mouth with one hand, I stare at the screen, wishing I’d never bothered checking my emails. I should have lain down on the settee, tried to sleep. Pretended to, at least. Read a book. Watched television I don’t care for. Anything but this.
Even after I screw my eyes shut, brace myself, and open my eyes again, the message is still there on the screen. A pseudonym, an unrecognised email account (security reasons, in case the wrong person happens along), a coded message and a thinly-veiled calling in of a favour, thanks to a promise long-ago made.
Sergeant, I need your help.